The problems with being young and broke

Crying African girl, young and broke

Being young feels awesome (or at least it’s supposed to feel like it). It’s amazing but it sucks at the same it. Chances are, you’re probably broke too. Yes, regular young people like you and I who are trying to make a living in a hostile economy, won’t really enjoy that all that youth because we’re perpetually broke. The problems with being both young and broke are endless! Well at least for me they are, but the worst ones have to be these 5:

You want things

You’re broke, like me, but you want things. You want so many things…almost none of which you can afford. It’s not that you don’t have the money, it’s just that you have to weigh your options, constantly. Small things against bigger picture things. Of course stuff like saving transport (or fuel) money and using it for exactly that; buying basic toiletries and ignoring the fancy looking shower gel; only eating at home until you forget the smell of pizza made over a charcoal oven.

It’s the small things that get to you. But I can’t not mention the bigger things, achievable things I want…like vacationing in Thailand, yet I can’t afford a little trip to Chinhoyi caves if I wanted one. Things like fervently wishing I could own my means of transport, (yes I want the option to park it at home when I can’t afford fuel too). I’m not sure what’s worse, not having money at all, or having a tiny bit of money, and a long list of things to use it on.

You’re an adult, but you’re a child

Remember that awkward time when you were 19-21 years old? When you’re sometimes expected to act like an adult, but also treated like a child? Well, as long as you’re broke, that phase never ends. You’re a full grown adult, but you’re a child. You’re a child because you a dependant. You can’t find that job, or get your hustle running…so you’re a child.

It’s so freaking awkward…mostly because no one has to tell you your place, you know it. And if you’re the eldest, too bad, now you and your younger siblings are on equal standing. Actually no, they’re students, so they’re allowed. They can even offer you money (your parents or guardians that is) but it’s just so fucking awkward…especially when they’re not rich.

The pitying head shakes

Those infernal pitying head shakes! That horrendous question you have no answer to, “So what are you doing?” “Where are you working?” “Who are you working for?” “Is that what you studied?” Then that pitying look. It makes your blood boil! Now you want to avoid all your relatives. They’re well-meaning, but you just don’t want to talk about it. You think about it every day already, now you have to talk about it too?

And if you have a business, or are trying (unsuccessfully) to start or run one, it’s worse. First you explain that no, you’re not looking for a job, you don’t work for anyone, you work for yourself. If your business model is simple, or more traditional, you’re in luck, “Oh, I sell shoes, or wigs, or chickens…” Simple model, simple explanation. If you’re selling digital solutions, or you’re an influencer or run an online business …good luck breaking that down!

Dreaded birthdays

The thought of turning another calendar year is terrifying. You’re not in your early 20s anymore. You’re in your mid-20s, late 20s, almost 30! And you’re still young, broke, and sometimes really confused. My friend used to panic every time we talked about her birthday, she was turning 25 in a couple of months at the time. I didn’t get it…at all. I was 22, going on 23. The beautiful, youthful age of 22! Now I get it.

Whenever I remember that my 20-something birthday is galloping towards me, I go to bed. I go to my bedroom, lie on the bed, and cover myself with a blanket (also, I work from home, so I can totally do that). The panic cannot enter my cosy little cocoon. But I can’t hide forever, that birthday is still coming! Why is time moving when your own life isn’t moving? That really sucks.

Everybody’s getting married!

Okay, this is a wild card…but everybody is getting married! Where are they getting the money for that? Lobola isn’t cheap and weddings are expensive. Which means they’re not broke. And they know what they’re doing in life…whilst some of us don’t. And yeah, if you’re getting married, you’re totally not broke (kindly take yourself out this category of broke people). That stuff isn’t for the weak at pocket.

Chin up though…

Being young and broke totally sucks. Actually, I don’t know if we’re broke or poor…because your parents’/guardians’ socio-economic status isn’t yours, you just enjoy it as a dependant. I won’t say I’m young and poor, because that’s disrespectful to the less fortunate members of our communities, but I really don’t have much to my name.

Chin up though, it gets better! (PS, I’m compelled to end on a positive note, with a nice punchy call to action, otherwise what’s the point of this blog post?) You and I might be broke money wise, but not talent wise. Not potential wise. Things will start looking up, things will change, they’ll get better…you need to believe. Of course, you have to be doing something about it yourself, you have to make it happen. Long story short, do everything you can, hang in there and be patient.

READ: Achieving your goals by understanding the power of time

Almost everyone (who didn’t have rich parents) was young and broke once. Yes, I know the Zim economy is shitty, but our duty is to find ways to do better and make it better (or leave if you want to). I prefer to stay hopeful, but I understand the move towards migration. To keep myself from despairing, I remind myself that being broke is temporary (or a state of the mind, although I’m unsure about this). Remember everything has a time and season, and yours shall come.

So chin up, and cheers to being young and broke.

What’s really holding you back, honestly?

woman breaking free of chains holding her back

What’s really holding you back? Okay, this is a loaded a question, but a question I had to ask myself. Maybe my story will resonate with you, maybe it won’t…but here goes.

Growing up I wanted to be many things…I’ve wanted to do many things career-wise. I remember dreaming of walking down a runway, decked in exquisite gowns, blinding the audience with my pearly whites, and clinching that crown. Perhaps my mother still recalls the days I declared boldly that one day I would be the reigning Miss World. I outgrew that dream mentally (physically I stopped growing taller too early so that wasn’t going to work out anyway). Doctor, flight attendant, President (of the country), pro-athlete, film producer/director, lawyer (this wasn’t an original ambition) all make the list, and as I said, it’s a long list.

Dreams of writing

The most prominent and recurring profession that I ached for, was writing. At risk of sounding like a complete cliché, I felt from the depths of my soul that writing was my destiny. Okay, that’s a little dramatic, but you get my drift. I won’t get into details of what I wrote, how much wrote and when…the important part is I wanted to write professionally. Fast forward a couple of years, I studied Psychology, pursued college Athletics with reckless abandon, and manoeuvred my way into Advertising after graduation.

I re-discovered my love for writing somewhere between finishing college and exploring my options. I also fantasized about having my voice coasting the airwaves, flowing into people’s ears – to be on the radio. To make all this happen, I knew exactly what I needed to do and have first.

The little list

Long story short, I decided that for me to pursue my writing dreams, whilst working for myself, this is what I needed:

  1. A laptop
  2. To not worry about basic needs
  3. Internet (for self-publishing)
  4. A flexible timetable
  5. To earn just enough so I don’t have to ask my mum for money

I bought myself a laptop; my mother said I can live under her roof as long as I need/want to; I have constant internet access; currently I earn enough to cover my toiletries, my hair, and pay for any movements; and three jobs later, I have a flexible timetable because I work for me now.

So the big question is, how many books have I written?

None. Zero. Nada. Zilch.

Yup, all that hyping, prepping, dreaming, and still…nothing.

I created all the conditions I needed, but it didn’t make a difference, I was/am still not doing what I know I should. Sometimes I think I need inspiration, a change of environment…and the mountains of Mutare sound like a fantastic place to start. But here’s the thing…I’ll find a new excuse. I’ll find something else missing, some other condition that needs to be met. The problem isn’t what I have, or don’t have, or access to resources…the problem is me.

I’m now the thing that’s holding myself back. I’ve always been what was holding me back.

It was a bitter pill to swallow, knowing that I’ve been putting off my dreams for one reason or the other. Before laptops, before these convenient gadgets, writers used typewriters, and before that, paper and pen. There’s lots of paper at home. And a pen is less than a dollar.

I was waiting for the perfect time, but the perfect time doesn’t exist.

My own worst enemy

It will never come. They’ll always be a new reason, an urgent condition that needs to be met. Maybe it was just inertia, but that throws a wrench through the whole thing…because now I have a new demon to fight. Looking back, I realize now that I’ve been making excuses, and whilst one or two of my conditions were valid, the rest were just bullshit. Maybe I don’t want it badly enough, or I’m not committing when I should. Whatever the reason, I don’t want to be that person anymore. I’ve always been a go-getter, but now I need to step it up a notch.

Right after graduation, I thought it would be cool to bag a job as a blogger, funny story, I did. After quitting that job, I was convinced my dream job (not for life) was working as a Copywriter at an advertising agency, 3 months later, I was. That didn’t work out the way I thought it would, but the point is, I’ve made things happen for myself before, why not now. I don’t want to stand in my own way.

READ: Why I quit my job, and why you shouldn’t.

Now over to you. I now know what’s holding me back, what’s been holding me back all this time (myself), but what about you? If you’re not currently stirring your life in the direction that you want, what’s holding you back? There are some pretty valid reasons for putting your dreams on hold, just be certain yours are. I fooled myself for over a year, and it’s only now that I’ve become fully aware of my inertia.

So…what’s really holding you back?

Learning to be best friends with yourself and why it matters

being best friends, happy teddies sit together

I never fully understood the importance of being best friends with yourself until I had a meltdown in the middle of the night. I said a lot of unkind things to myself, a lot of thoughts that honestly shouldn’t see the light of day. The next day I woke up to the realization that I had changed. That I was no longer the self-assured woman who knew where she was going, how she was getting there, and why she was going there. The unwavering certainty of pursuing a goal eluded me, and so my sense of self-efficacy was taking near fatal blows.

[Self-efficacy is an individual’s belief in their innate abilities to succeed in specific situations, achieve goals, or accomplish tasks. You can read a little more on self-efficacy to better understand it here.]

The thing with self-efficacy is, it affects both your confidence and self-esteem. It’s tricky little situation. Anyways, upon this realization that I had changed, it also occurred to me that I never used to talk to myself quite this badly before. I was a believer, but even that was starting to elude me. I decided that morning that I needed to re-learn being best friends with myself.

Here’s why being best friends with yourself rocks

I don’t know about you, but my best friends and I generally don’t bash each other, at all. He can bash himself sometimes, but it’s my job to remind him what an awesome person he is. (For the sake of easy writing I’m going to refer to the said best friend as a guy, but you’re free to insert a different gender.) When he’s sad, I listen; when he needs to vent, I listen; when he’s happy, I listen; when he’s victorious, we celebrate.

Point is, best friends support each other and always have each other’s backs. I’d never tell him he’s a loser, I wouldn’t even think it, so in the same vein I shouldn’t be telling it to myself. Do you ever tell your best friend, when he’s feeling like a failure, that he might as well not bother trying because there’s really no point at all? Do you tell him that he’ll always be in the same position no matter how hard he tries, because success just isn’t his thing? I don’t! I’m not a shitty friend, and if your friends say that to you, find new ones.

When you are best friends with yourself, you can acknowledge your shortfalls without bashing yourself. You’ll cheer yourself on, because you believe in yourself, just like you believe in your best friend. You don’t believe the negative things he says about himself, so why do you believe it about yourself? In the cases where those things are true, then you help him become a better person.

Most importantly best friends are kind to each other. They’re compassionate and forgiving. The best of friends are nice to one another, and treat each other with respect. And so that’s what I’ll do with myself, and maybe you should too.

Why it matters

Why does your best friend matter? When shit hits the ceiling, you could lose your sanity. Imagine you’re unemployed, or your small business isn’t turning a good profit, or you’re falling to secure clients; then hearing a consistent whisper in your head telling you how much you suck? Or how bad everything is and that it’s only going to get worse?

There’s a mental load to constantly battling panic, fear, hopelessness and anxiety. It’s tiring, and leaves you emotionally drained. If things aren’t going very well for you, then the last thing you need is constant negativity in your head. You’re going to need all the love and support you need, so why not start it from within?

So many things are beating at my mind I can’t afford to add to my own misery with self-bashing and a crippling permission. I’d rather put that energy towards being kinder to myself. That’s why it matters. That’s why it’s important to be treat yourself like your best friend.

What being best friends with yourself means

It means you’re more patient with yourself, with the pace of the progress you’re making. Being your own best friend entails practising tolerance with yourself and your flaws; it means forgiving yourself more for your fuck-ups. I learnt long ago to be as objective as possible about my skills and abilities, and I’m grateful that aspect hasn’t changed. Honesty is an essential part of a healthy relationship, and all of us should maintain that within ourselves.

Moreover, for me, being best friends with myself means working towards my goals, but not putting too much pressure on myself. It means sparing myself the torture of comparison and yet using it to propel me forward. Most importantly it means loving myself more, and showing myself more kindness and tolerance.

Now you try it. Befriend yourself, be kinder to yourself and see what happens. Share it with your friends so they can do it too.